Bar mentoring program

The La Trobe Law School's bar mentoring program exposes students to practice as a barrister

A new mentoring program at La Trobe is demystifying what life is really like as a practising barrister.

Second year Juris Doctor student, Juan Barrera Estrada, participated in La Trobe Law School’s Bar Mentoring Program, which allows La Trobe Law students to shadow a member of the Victorian Bar as part of their Civil Dispute Resolution core subject.

“We basically follow the barrister to multiple court hearings,” explains Juan.

“We attend hearings, and the barrister gives us a brief of what’s going to be happening beforehand. We also read about previous cases or hearings and get the chance to ask questions.”

Juan shadowed his mentor, Oren Bigos KC, on cases relating to commercial and corporate law.

“When I was doing my application, we were asked about the areas of law that interest us the most. I nominated commercial law, so I was allocated to Oren because he is a specialist in this area.”

“I have learnt so much, from applying legal doctrines in the field to participating in numerous discussions on legal tests. The chance to closely observe inherent court formalities has been crucial to my understanding of the Victorian legal sector.”

Juan’s mentor, Oren Bigos KC, has provided guidance to three La Trobe law students as part of the Bar Mentoring Program.

“The students have accompanied me to court for contested hearings, including an appeal in the Court of Appeal on property and contract law and a shareholder dispute in the Federal Court. I discussed the cases with them briefly before and after the hearings, and they got an opportunity to meet my juniors and the instructing solicitors,” he explains.

“The court experiences were eye-opening for the students, and hopefully gives them an idea of what it is like to be practising as a barrister in commercial litigation. I am glad that I could share the experiences with them and assist them to make future career choices.”

For Juan, who hopes to pursue a career in commercial law when he graduates, the mentoring program was invaluable.

“It has provided me with a clear and comprehensive insight into the legal profession, which has mitigated any intimidation I may have felt previously,” he says.

“I recommend the program to anyone who is currently studying because it gives you an opportunity to see what the day-to-day life of a lawyer is really like. I now feel more confident and prepared to start my career.”

On the final day of the program, students and their barrister mentors had the opportunity to celebrate together at Owen Dixon Chambers.